1. Headline
  1. Headline
By John W. Schoen Senior Producer
msnbc.com

Q: My company is forcing its employees to take 6 days vacation in order to affect the bottom line. Many employees must take the time without pay because they do not have enough vacation hours accrued. Did the company break its contract with the salaried employees and revert them to hourly ones? If so, are the employees entitled to be compensation for overtime since their date of hire?— Tres H., Columbus, Ohio

  1. Stories from
    1. Robert Pattinson Reveals the Hardest Part of His Breakup with Kristen Stewart
    2. Hilary Duff Shows Off Sexy Bikini Body in New Video: Get Her Fit Tips!
    3. Drew Barrymore's Half Sister Jessica Probably Overdosed, Says Brother
    4. Why Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Kirstie Alley Aren't Speaking
    5. See Brian Williams Report on His Daughter's Peter Pan Gig

A: When looking for answers to legal questions, we usually turn to the lawyers. Unfortunately, that means the answer isn’t simple, but this one may help you to get paid after all.

First off, is the “contract” you refer to a personal services contract? A collective bargaining agreement? If so, you need to check and see if the issue of involuntary, unpaid “vacation” is covered under those agreements.

If not, the question of whether you’re an hourly or salaried worker really doesn’t apply, according James Katz, a Philadelphia labor lawyer. And neither you nor your employer are free to designate you arbitrarily as an hourly worker, and thus eligible for overtime. That status, says Katz, is determined by the Fair Labor Standards Act and depends on a host of job characteristics, including how much you make, your level of skill or education and how closely you are supervised by a manager.

There may also be state laws that apply to the issue of involuntarily, unpaid “vacation.” (We made several calls to the Ohio Dept. of Labor but were unable to get an answer.)

But if you want to get paid for your “vacation,” Katz suggests you try filing for unemployment insurance.

“You can call it what you want,” he said, “but it’s really a layoff.”

You may be ineligible for payment if the waiting period is longer than a week. But it’s worth a try: If your claim is accepted, your employer will have to kick in to cover part of the cost of your claim.

And if you’re successful, it might discourage the company from pulling this stunt again, said Katz.

“If an employer decides to shut down a plant to save money, they may think twice about it if it’s going to increase their unemployment insurance costs,” he said.

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Only enough for one: Experimental serum used on US Ebola patient

    A dose of “experimental serum” arrived in Liberia to be tried on a U.S. charity worker struggling for her life — but there was only enough for one of the two infected workers.

    7/31/2014 4:20:32 PM +00:00 2014-07-31T16:20:32
  1. See this hardworking mom of 4 and Army vet get the makeover she deserves!

    Tara Green, a mother of four who’s planning to start her first job since leaving the Army 15 years ago, was hoping a makeover would give her the new professional look she needs.

    7/31/2014 4:49:33 PM +00:00 2014-07-31T16:49:33